Masters of their own future
Lawyers are discovering the benefits of studying for a Masters degree in Law.
This month, the University of Adelaide will have its first graduates in the Master of Laws by coursework and the Master of Business Law.
Offered alone or in combination with the Master of Commerce, these degrees provide new opportunities for legal professionals to develop their skills and knowledge, and in turn their professional prospects.
Craig Clarke is among those due to graduate at the University of Adelaide in December. A Technical Officer with the Office of the Chief Tax Counsel, Australian Tax Office, he saw the Masters in Law as a good way to broaden his legal education while working full-time.
"The program helped me develop an ability to critically analyse legal issues from a broader perspective, rather than just Rules + Facts = Decision," Craig said.
"Subjects such as World Economic Law and Global Issues in IP revealed how international considerations impact upon domestic laws and enactments, as well as the inherent limitations of sovereign and international dispute forums and mechanisms."
Flexibility in study appeals to professionals looking to upgrade their skills. Serena Yang, a Project Officer with the Economic Analysis and Policy Division, Department of Trade and Economic Development, appreciated the opportunity to study more than just law.
"Upon approval, students can undertake two courses from other disciplines within the University. I always intended to undertake some study in economics which would be helpful for my current work," she said.
Both Craig and Serena said the flexible coursework arrangements, such as evening and weekend classes, and intensive courses were of great help.
"The intensive format of teaching made combining study with work much easier. This enables you to get a broad understanding of the topic relatively quickly," Craig said.
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits is the opportunity to develop personally as well as professionally. Irene Fountenekas, a solicitor with the South Australia Police Solicitors Branch, has been studying for a combined Master of Laws and Master of Commerce (Marketing).
She said the study "has made me regain confidence in my abilities. It has expanded my knowledge and made me once more open to learning and new experiences".
"I believe the program would appeal to people of various backgrounds. Practising lawyers, who feel like they are stuck in a rut or need a fresh perspective on the law, will find the Master of Laws does this, and it could open new paths for them," Irene said.
Serena agreed: "The skills that I have obtained through my LLM study are helpful to my current work, and I believe that these skills would make me better equipped for career advancement when the opportunity arises."
"I think many employers will come to expect Masters level as a minimum qualification," Craig added. "The variety of subjects and the delivery of teaching means that the program will appeal to a broad cross section of both practising lawyers and other professionals."
Story by David Ellis